We made bread every Friday, each person or family proofing their own dough the night or morning before the bake; one person on oven duty stoking the fire all day; and then we’d come together in the late afternoon, and the soft, wet dough used to make snakes would be rolled out long and thin and go into the oven first, taking the hottest and fastest bake of all the breads.

We’d tear the snakes into pieces, dip them in balsamic vinegar and garlic olive oil, or spread herbed butter on the light crumb and devour the warm bread as the next batches went into the oven.  Mostly it was sourdough, with many variations: added honey, cornmeal, oatmeal, seeded crusts.  Then there were the cinnamon rolls, all puffed up and golden in their tray.  And after the baking, perhaps a chicken would roast in the heat that was left, or beans, or a moose stew would slow-cook overnight.  One bake would feed the whole farm bread for a week, sometimes more.

We took turns pulling loaves out of the oven, and as the snakes disappeared a mandolin and guitar might come out, the pedals of a spinning wheel would pat up and down to the beat, and the kids’ fingers would wind and tangle in cat’s cradle; some nights homemade ice cream balanced the heat of the fire; on the edges of the season, we’d eat inside where a wood stove warmed the house.

RWS_7345 RWS_7393 RWS_7400 RWS_7392 RWS_8358 RWS_7708 RWS_7677 RWS_9639We don’t have a wood-fired bread oven here on our farm in Vermont, yet.  It’s on the long list of building projects and won’t be built until next summer (I hope it gets built next summer!).  But I do have some whole wheat flour from a farm in Berlin, just a few miles on the other side of Montpelier, and I have this day to myself and a wood stove to crank up, and a bag of yeast in the freezer.

It’s been a long time since I made bread of my own; when Edge reluctantly admitted he had to go gluten-free for health reasons, the smell of fresh baked bread made me feel a little guilty.  He assures me now I should start again, the smell won’t hurt him, as enticing as it is.

And so here I go, warming the yurt, dusting the kneading board, baking bread.


{All this bread baking happened at Calypso Farm and Ecology Center, the farm where Edge and I met.}